August 11, 2014

Aloof, Quiet, and Dissonant: On Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage 9


All of the hallmarks of Murakami’s style all are present in Colorless Tsukuru, but for perhaps the first time in his work, they seem flat and uninteresting, almost overused, as if the novel is a parody of his earlier work.

August 1, 2014

More Alive and Much Stranger: On Yelena Akhtiorskaya’s Panic in a Suitcase 0


Storms come, storms go, aspirations don’t become reality and personalities don’t improve, they just flat-line.

July 30, 2014

Should We Talk About The Weather? Frankenstein, Fear, and the “Year Without Summer” 1


Wood sees the eruption of Tambora and its devastating after-effects as a case study for rapid climate change, arguing that the years post-Tambora offer “a rare, clear window onto a world convulsed by weather extremes, with human communities everywhere struggling to adapt to sudden, radical shifts in temperatures and rainfall.”

July 29, 2014

“Story with a Real Beast and a Little Blood”: on Rose McLarney’s Its Day Being Gone 0


Appalachian literature plays an elegaic refrain. It is a literature of dislocation and transition and survival.

July 22, 2014

John Waters’s America 1


In the back of his mind, Mark Twain probably imagined a dogshit-eating transvestite, but couldn’t find a place for him in Huckleberry Finn.

July 22, 2014

Our Own Personal Superhero: Gene Luen Yang and The Shadow Hero 4


It’s like coloring within the lines of a Jackson Pollock painting.

July 16, 2014

Have Neurosis, Will Travel: On Nathan Deuel’s Friday Was the Bomb 1


By being so honest and clear about his unshakeable fears, Deuel’s anxieties become our own. It’s a move that would make most novelists jealous. Friday succeeds where others — like Dave Eggers — have failed.

July 1, 2014

Is This Really Real Life? Christopher Beha’s Arts & Entertainments 2


Eddie, the main character, no longer wants to be a protagonist. He simply wants to no longer feel like a failure, which is a pretty good definition of adulthood at this moment.

June 27, 2014

Betting on Quality: On One Story Collected 1


If One Story Collected is a stethoscope to the heart of contemporary American fiction, the news is good: despite a run of economic shocks to the publishing industry, the muscle that pumps fresh blood into the system is still beating like a tom-tom.

June 20, 2014

Style and the Man: On Adam Begley’s Updike 9


If you are going to make major claims for Updike as a writer, as Begley wishes to do, you must show how Updike’s style and his cosmology correspond, and you must give an account of the effects that style produces.